On to the Finals!

For the past two days, ever since the Red Wings kept their playoff hopes alive by winning Game Six, the Detroit media has been full of playoff cliches. “It’s a do or die situation.” “The first goal will be huge.” “The Red Wings need to play to win.” Fans took up time at work discussing hockey?perfect strangers started talking hockey while waiting in line at the grocery store or in dentists’ waiting rooms. Anxiety? Yes. Anticipation? Yes. Excitement? Oh, yes.

The fans and media need not have worried. Game Seven was a dream game, the game we all imagined but never dared to give voice to, a stunning 7-0 victory to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals and give the Colorado Avalanche a sendoff to their summer vacation.

The Red Wings came out fighting, and the first goal WAS huge, as well as early and from a not-so-expected, but highly deserving source. Igor Larionov won a faceoff in Colorado’s zone and got the puck back to Luc Robitaille. Robitaille passed back to Steve Duchesne at the left point. Duchesne fired towards the net, and Tomas Holmstrom tipped it as he was being shoved to the ice. The puck redirected between the legs of Greg Devries and past Patrick Roy for the all-important first goal.

Second shot, second goal. The Red Wings continued to control. Steve Yzerman passed the puck to Sergei Fedorov at the blue line. Fedorov carried it in up the left wing side. His hard shot deflected off the stick of Rob Blake, off Roy’s blocker, and into the net.

What next? Keep right on going. After the Wings very neatly killed off an obstruction interference penalty to Freddy Olausson, Robitaille increased the lead by one more. He carried the puck into the zone and passed it to Larionov behind the net. Larionov skated towards the blue line, but gave the puck back to Robitaille on the way. Robitaille’s patient shot slid through Roy’s five-hole for a 3-0 game.

Holmstrom scored again before the end of the first period. Robitaille carried the puck into the zone, splitting between two defensemen. Roy came out of the crease to block the shot, but the rebound angled out to where Holmstrom was coming up with speed to flip it into the net and set a new record?Patrick Roy had never before given up more than three goals in one period.

The Wings started patiently in the second. Nick Lidstrom and Chris Chelios paired up to start, to keep the Avalanche from scoring an early goal and possibly gaining momentum. Colorado did try to pressure, but Hasek was huge in net again, and the Wings again scored early. Boyd Devereaux fought for the puck behind the net, then put the centering pass out front for Brett Hull. Hull looked toward Roy’s far side, lured him away from the goalpost, and then whipped the puck into the space Roy had vacated.

It took the sixth Detroit goal, a power play goal by Olausson from a splendid cross-crease pass by Yzerman, to chase Roy from the net. Backup goalie David Aebischer came in to take his place. The fans filling the Joe let Roy know that he was not forgotten: “We want Roy!” they taunted.

Colorado started the third period slowly, without nearly as much pressure as they are normally capable of. The Red Wings managed to shut them down for the most part, sending in only one forechecker and playing strongly in the neutral zone to prevent any turnovers or careless play. When the Avalanche did break through, Hasek was ready for them.

The Avalanche did think they had ruined Hasek’s shutout when Chris Drury put the puck in the net with 7:10 remaining, but video review showed that Drury had kicked it in, and the goal was disallowed.

Finally, Pavel Datsyuk put the icing on the victory cake during a Red Wing power play with 3:51 remaining. Duchesne passed to Hull from the left point to the left half boards, and Hull angled a pass across to Datsyuk on the right side. Datsyuk’s shot deflected off the stick of Darius Kasparaitis, off Aebischer’s arm, and into the net. The time ran down, the buzzer sounded, and the fans screamed for their team, the new Western Conference Champions. The Clarence Campbell Bowl, the award for Western Conference victory, was presented, and Steve Yzerman accepted it graciously, showing it off to the fans before putting it carefully away. The Campbell Bowl is nice, but ultimately not important. A bigger trophy is calling.

The Avalanche go home. The Red Wings advance. They will meet their opponent, the surprising Carolina Hurricanes, for Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals, on Tuesday evening at Joe Louis Arena.

Dominik Hasek posts a new NHL record tonight. Never before has a goalie earned more than five shutouts in a single postseason. And just think, he has at least four more chances!?. This was the most lopsided playoff victory since the NHL expanded in 1967.

Stirring It Up

Three times, the Colorado Avalanche took a one-goal lead. Three times more, the Red Wings answered to tie. But in overtime, the Wings were not able to break the pattern and score first, and the Avalanche won 4-3 to tie the series at one game apiece.

As in Game One, the Avalanche opened the scoring on an early power play. Steve Duchesne was sitting in the box on an interference call. The Avalanche won the faceoff in Detroit’s zone, and Alex Tanguay got it away to Peter Forsberg open on the right wing side. Forsberg threw the puck towards the net, and Tanguay was on hand to redirect it past Dominik Hasek.

Detroit’s first goal came midway through the first period. Brett Hull passed from the left side out to Boyd Devereaux in the high slot. Devereaux wrestled the puck away from Adam Foote, spun around and fired it. The puck whistled by Foote and over Patrick Roy‘s right shoulder, right into the net.

The Red Wings came on strong in the second period. Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, and Steve Yzerman, with Mathieu Dandenault and Steve Duchesne backing them up on defense, had some especially good chances and pressure in the Colorado zone. Even so, the Avalanche again got the first goal of the period. Martin Skoula took a shot from the blue line which bounced like a pinball off of several players before finally angling off the skate of Forsberg and into Hasek’s net.

Detroit answered shorthanded. Jiri Fischer had been sent off for roughing. The Wings cleared the puck down to Colorado’s end, and Roy came out of his net to clear it away. Kirk Maltby intercepted the clear and came in all alone. Roy backed up, but couldn’t really get set, and Maltby deked the puck behind Roy and in for the tying goal.

Greg DeVries regained the lead for the Avalanche just over five minutes into the third period. The puck went down behind Hasek’s net, and everyone went in after it?except for DeVries, trailing the play. Stephen Reinprecht got to the puck first and centered it for DeVries, who was able to wrist a shot past Hasek.

Reinprecht then cost his team a goal by taking an interference penalty near the end of an Avalanche power play. The resulting power play for the Red Wings was not a full two minutes, but it didn’t need to be. Nick Lidstrom deliberately shot the puck just wide of the net, and it bounced back in front of the goal line, where Roy hit it with the bottom of his skate and put it into his own net.

The Wings took control of the game for the rest of the third period, trying to gain their first lead of the game, but Roy made some key saves and the game went to overtime. Just over two minutes in, Chris Drury broke a scoring drought to give the Avalanche the win. Forsberg intercepted a bad clearing pass, leaving only Fischer back to defend Hasek. Forsberg’s shot rebounded to Reinprecht, who passed across the crease to Drury. Drury put the shot high into the top corner to end the game.

The Red Wings outshot the Avalanche, thirty-three to twenty-six. Both teams were one for five on power plays. Game Three of this intensifying Western Conference Final will be Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Jason Williams played again in place of Igor Larionov, still listed as day to day with a knee injury?. Steve Yzerman’s assist on Nick Lidstrom’s goal was his 100th career playoff assist.

Turning It Up

The St. Louis Blues were prepared to give the Red Wings more of a challenge in Game Two, and challenge they did?more hitting, more shots on net, more defensemen rushing up to join the play and create scoring chances. Still, the Red Wings were able to rise to the challenge and outscore the Blues 3-2, giving them a 2-0 lead in this Western Conference Semi-final series.

The Red Wings controlled the game early and opened the scoring 2:46 into the opening period. Steve Duchesne dumped the puck into the Blues’ zone, and goaltender Brent Johnson attempted to clear it away. He mishandled the puck, however, and Sergei Fedorov was able to intercept it and get it to Steve Yzerman driving to the front of the net. Yzerman tapped it in past the scrambling Johnson.

Both teams took a few penalties in the first period. Detroit did a good job killing theirs off. They spent most of the time controlling the puck in the St. Louis zone and at center ice, making it nearly impossible for the Blues to set up a scoring play. The Blues, on the other hand, ran into trouble with their penalties.

Dallas Drake was sent to the penalty box for roughing with 1:56 left in the period. Nick Lidstrom sent a long pass from the right point across to Brett Hull waiting in front of the left side of the net, and Hull one-timed a wrist shot which hit the inside of Johnson’s left thigh and rattled into the net.

The Blues showed a lack of intensity in the second period, and ran into penalty trouble again midway through. This time, Jamal Mayers was in the box for interference. Chris Chelios passed along the blue line to Freddy Olausson. Olausson fired a hard shot on net, and the puck brushed the jersey of Luc Robitaille on its way past Johnson.

St. Louis came back hard after that, generating a lot of chances, especially when they got a power play chance of their own on a penalty to Kris Draper, but Dominik Hasek held them off in his acrobatic style, and the Red Wings’ defense was able to get the rebounds and clear the puck away from their goaltender.

Unfortunately for the Wings, the Blues carried that late period intensity into the third and were able to score less than a minute in. Chris Pronger carried the puck behind the net, and Hasek expected him to make a try for a wraparound goal, but Pronger instead left the puck for Scott Mellanby coming around the net in the opposite direction. Hasek couldn’t quite get over in time, and Mellanby stuffed it into the net.

The Red Wings picked up their play after that, controlling the puck for the greater part of the period and making the Blues have to go chase it in their own zone. The St. Louis bench pulled Johnson for the extra attacker with over two minutes to play. The six Blues pressed hard in Detroit’s zone, but Hasek managed to keep the puck out, and the Wings finally got it down the ice. They got caught mishandling the puck as the Blues brought it back up on the attack, and Keith Tkachuk and Mellanby brought it back in on a two on one. Lidstrom got his stick down to try to block Tkachuk’s pass, but the puck bounced over the stick to Mellanby. Mellanby’s quick shot jumped into the net over Hasek’s shoulder.

The Blues tried to press their advantage and score again to force an overtime with the forty seconds that remained to them, but they were unable to put the puck in the net again.

Hasek stopped thirty-five of the thirty-seven shots he faced, while Johnson turned aside twenty-eight of thirty-one.

The semi-final series will continue Tuesday evening at the Savvis Center in St. Louis.

Onward and Upward

It was a hard-fought, high scoring game, and the Vancouver Canucks certainly were not going to let the Red Wings win it easily. Yet win it they did, with star performances from Chris Chelios, Igor Larionov, and Brett Hull, taking a 6-4 victory to win the Western Conference Quarterfinal series four games to two.

Dan Cloutier has not been the same since he let in Nick Lidstrom‘s shot from center ice in Game Three. The Canucks started him in net for Game Six anyway, and the Red Wings got off to an early lead. Tomas Holmstrom scored the first goal just over a minute into the game. Igor Larionov put the puck towards the net, and Holmstrom was able to get the rebound and lift it in past Cloutier.

Larionov scored a few minutes later. Cloutier came out of the net to clear the puck away, but Luc Robitaille beat him to it and sent it out front to Larionov, who made an easy shot into the empty net. Vancouver pulled Cloutier and replaced him with Peter Skudra after that, and that shook up the Canucks enough to let them take advantage of their first power play of the game.

Jiri Fischer took a roughing penalty for retaliating against Matt Cooke who was knocking Sergei Fedorov around, and the Red Wings ran into penalty trouble. A minute into the penalty, Ed Jovanovski fired the puck from the blue line, and it bounced off the leg of Chris Chelios and down into the net between Dominik Hasek‘s legs.

Buoyed by their momentum, the Canucks scored again thirty-four seconds later. Two Canucks got going on a two-on-one towards Hasek’s net. Steve Duchesne was able to hold position and take the passing lane away, but Henrik Sedin held onto the puck, then fired it over Hasek’s shoulder and into the net.

The Red Wings played a calmer game in the start of the second period, keeping control of the puck and letting the momentum slip away from Vancouver. It paid off for them when the Canucks ran into penalty problems. The problem? The penalty went to Detroit.

Steve Duchesne went to the box for cross-checking, and Vancouver was trying to set up their scoring play, but Kris Draper got the puck away and into the Canucks’ zone. He squeezed between the boards and Jovanovski, managing to put the puck towards Skudra, as Jovanovski knocked him down into the goal crease. The puck rebounded towards center, and Nick Lidstrom skated in and put it into the net.

Just thirty seconds later, during the same penalty, the Red Wings scored yet another shorthanded goal. This time, Steve Yzerman and Chris Chelios got the puck out of the defensive zone, and up to Brett Hull, who got in all alone against Skudra. He went up the right wing side, almost to the goal line, before taking a tight angle shot that rang off the far goalpost and into the net over the sprawling Skudra.

Hull scored again before the end of the period. This one was a Detroit power play goal, while Murray Baron sat in the penalty box on a holding call. Larionov carried the puck into the zone and tapped it to his left at the blue line. Hull got the pass, took a few strides towards the goal, and unleashed a powerful wrist shot which went into the net high over Skudra’s shoulder.

Vancouver scored again in the third, just at the very end of a holding the stick penalty to Jason Williams. Jovanovski fired from the blue line. The puck hit Mathieu Dandenault, and Hasek dropped to stop it. The puck stayed free, however, and Henrik Sedin scraped it into the net.

Hull answered with another power play goal with just over five minutes left to play. Chelios sent the puck from the right point up to Larionov behind the net, and Larionov centered out front to Hull. In classic Brett Hull style, he one-timed a laser-quick wrist shot, down on one knee. The puck bounced off Jovanovski and in for the hat trick.

The Canucks weren’t quite ready to give up yet. They pulled their goalie when they gained an offensive zone faceoff with 3:30 remaining, and they were able to score. The Red Wings had a tough time clearing the puck, and Trevor Linden’s shot caused Hasek to drop down low to block. The rebound came free, and Cooke was able to get it and put it into the mostly empty net.

Darren McCarty was sent to the box for holding with 2:34 left. Skudra had to come back in for the faceoff, but edged off again once Vancouver had puck control, giving the Canucks a six-on-four advantage. Hasek made the necessary big saves, the penalty was killed off, and the series was won.

The Red Wings will begin their Western Conference Semi-Final series next week, probably on Thursday. Their opponent will be either the St. Louis Blues or the Los Angeles Kings, depending on whether or not the Kings can gain a victory over the Colorado Avalanche in Game Seven of their series.

Detroit’s pair of shorthanded goals were the fourth fastest pair of shorthanded goals ever scored in the playoffs?. This was Brett Hull’s first ever playoff hat trick. It was also his twenty-second career playoff game-winning goal, second place all time. The only person ahead of him is Wayne Gretzky, with a total of twenty-four?. This is only the second time one of Scotty Bowman‘s teams has been down 0-2 in a playoff series and then come back to win. The other one was the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992, and they went on to win the Stanley Cup. A good omen for the Red Wings? We’ll know for sure in about a month and a half.

Home Is Where The Octopi Are

Home ice advantage became at last an advantage, and in a big way. The Red Wings returned to Joe Louis Arena, and left the crowd making noises which suit them much better than Friday night’s boos: cheers– loud, raucous, hopeful playoff cheers. The Red Wings took a 3-2 series lead by shutting out the Canucks, 4-0.

The goal scoring all came in the first period. The first goal came on a power play set off by a roughing call to Todd Warriner. Brendan Shanahan shot the puck from the left side. The rebound bounced off Dan Cloutier and right up the center, through several pairs of legs. Sergei Fedorov got to it and one-timed a wrist shot through the Vancouver players and into the net four minutes into the game, just thirty-four seconds after the start of the power play.

The Red Wings then were faced with killing off three penalties in a row. They succeeded, controlling the puck and keeping the Canucks from setting up any of their planned plays. Dominik Hasek was huge in the net, stretching and reaching to keep the red goal light off.

Detroit scored their second goal shorthanded, towards the end of the string of penalties. Fedorov intercepted the puck at Detroit’s blue line, and took off down the ice with Mathieu Dandenault. Fedorov passed the puck, and Dandenault shot it between Cloutier’s legs and into the net.

Brett Hull and Boyd Devereaux scored to put the Wings up by three. Nick Lidstrom passed the puck up the ice to Hull, barely onside. Hull’s shot bounced off Cloutier, and straight to Devereaux, who had sneaked to the net behind all of the Vancouver players. Devereaux easily put the puck into the wide open net.

Vancouver coach Marc Crawford changed things around after that. He pulled Cloutier out of the game and replaced him with backup goalie Peter Skudra. The Wings tested Skudra thoroughly in the remainder of the first period, giving him no chance to get comfortable in the net. Fedorov scored again with 1:29 remaining. Devereaux detained Todd Bertuzzi, allowing Jiri Fischer to clear the puck from Detroit’s zone. Fedorov and Brett Hull stole the puck from the Canucks attempting to hold it in at the line, and they were away. Hull carried the puck up the left side and threw it towards Skudra. Fedorov went to the net, put out his stick with one hand, and neatly deflected Hull’s shot into the goal.

Detroit played an intelligent game for the remaining two periods, taking few chances that would allow the Canucks to score. Hasek continued to be vital to the team, stopping every shot the tight Detroit defense allowed. Fischer kept big Bertuzzi from becoming a threat to either the score or the players. The Red Wings controlled the puck for most of the game, defending their goal by keeping the puck in Vancouver’s zone or at center. “Hey, we’re old and we’re smart,” said defenseman Steve Duchesne.

Shots on net were thirty to twenty-five in favor of the Red Wings. The teams will return to Vancouver tonight to play Game Six on Saturday evening.

This was Dominik Hasek’s seventh career playoff shutout?. Jason Williams returned to the lineup tonight; Pavel Datsyuk was given a rest?. Vancouver general manager Brian Burke complained bitterly about the officiating after Game Four, claiming that the referees were giving the Red Wings an unfair advantage. But after his team had four straight power plays and did not manage to score, what is he going to find to complain about in his next press conference? ?. Can the Red Wings wrap up the series on Saturday night? “We’ll see when we get there,” said Sergei Fedorov.

Ready for a New Start

The Red Wings themselves have reminded fans and reporters all season that the regular season means nothing- everything comes down to what happens in the playoffs. Hopefully they were right, as they did not end the regular season on the best of notes, going down 5-3 to the St. Louis Blues.

Dominik Hasek‘s game did not get off to the start he would have hoped: the Blues scored on their first shot of the game, less than a minute into the first period. Ray Ferraro flung the shot on net from the left wing side, and it bobbled off of Hasek’s stick, under his arm, and into the net.

Detroit had three power play opportunities in the first period, but were unable to score until early in the second. Uwe Krupp got the puck away from the Blues and passed it up to Luc Robitaille, who got it to Sergei Fedorov flying up the right wing side. Fedorov released a quick wrist shot which flew into the net past goaltender Fred Brathwaite’s outstretched glove.

The Red Wings ran into penalty trouble in the second, and St.Louis was able to score two power play goals. The first, during a slashing call to Chris Chelios, was scored by Pavol Demitra, who rushed towards the net, took the pass from Keith Tkachuk and wristed the puck past Hasek.

The next Blues goal came during a five-on-three situation resulting from overlapping penalties to Steve Duchesne and Boyd Devereaux. Scott Young fired a hard shot from the blue line, and the puck deflected off the stick of Nick Lidstrom and into the net. Hasek, being screened by Tkachuk, had no chance to see the redirected shot.

The Red Wings came on harder offensively in the third period, and were rewarded with a shorthanded goal. Kris Draper kicked the puck away from the St. Louis defenseman at the blue line and took off down the ice all alone. He drew Brathwaite out of the net in one direction and immediately put the puck in the other way to bring the Wings within one.

Daniel Corso answered for the Blues less than a minute later. Hasek had come out of the net to clear the puck away, but it was intercepted and Corso got it behind the net and in on a wraparound shot before Hasek could get back into place.

The Red Wings continued to come on, and scored a power play goal with five and half minutes left in the third. Jason Williams took a blue line pass from Robitaille, and released a quick one-timer which went right through Brathwaite.

Unfortunately, the Blues put the game away for good on a controversial goal with less than two minutes to play. Hasek came behind the net to settle the puck for his defenseman, but he was knocked on his back by a St. Louis attacker, and Cory Stillman scored into the empty net.

Shots on net were twenty-eight to twenty-four in favor of the Blues. The Red Wings will begin the playoffs on either Wednesday or Thursday night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Steve Yzerman warmed up with the team before the game, but did not play so as to rest his knee for a few more days”¦. Sergei Fedorov, injured in the third period yesterday by an errant shot, showed no damage in precautionary x-rays and had no swelling…. The Red Wings’ season record of 51-17-10-4 is their second best in team history.

Leafs Put Up A Fight

The Red Wings played a hard game, as they always do against this Original Six rival, but the Toronto Maple Leafs, desperately fighting for playoff positioning, were able to get past them 5-4 in overtime.

The Red Wings took an early lead, just over a minute into the game. Tomas Holmstrom passed the puck up to Igor Larionov, who carried it into the Toronto zone, deked between two Leafs’ defensemen, and placed a well-aimed wrist shot past goaltender Corey Schwab.

The Maple Leafs came back just a few minutes later. Jonas Hoglund got the puck out from a tangle along the boards and snapped a fast wrist shot past Manny Legace.

Detroit regained the lead only twenty-five seconds later, when Sergei Fedorov flew up the left wing side with the puck and took a hard shot from just outside the blue line. The puck slid into the net before Schwab could get his right leg pad down.

Again, Toronto got even quickly, this time on a breakaway goal by Alexander Mogilny. The Leafs then broke the pattern by taking the lead for themselves with just under two minutes left in the period. Aki Berg shot the puck from the left point, and the rebound bounced away from Legace and landed by the side of the net, where Darcy Tucker was able to tap it into the net.

The Leafs concentrated mainly on defense in the second period, keeping the Red Wings from getting the puck into the zone, or at least forcing them to shoot it in and then chase after it. Schwab played like a completely different goalie, blocking shots that no one would have expected him to block, and keeping the Wings from tying the game. Toronto increased their lead at the very end of the period, when Bryan McCabe fired a hard shot from the right wing side. Michael Renberg, waiting in front of the net, got just enough of his stick on the puck to redirect it into the net.

Detroit tried to increase their offense in the third period, but Schwab continued to play like a man inspired, and the Wings were unable to score until the period was more than halfway over. Fedorov won a deep-zone faceoff and got the puck back to Brett Hull, who slid the puck along the blue line to Nick Lidstrom. Lidstrom’s shot was deflected by Boyd Devereaux, and the puck then bounced off the defenseman Berg and into the net.

With the momentum from Devereaux’s goal, the Red Wings were able to tie the game moments later. Brendan Shanahan went to the front of the net, stick on the ice and waiting. Meanwhile, Hull passed the puck up the middle to Mathieu Dandenault, who faked a shot then passed to Shanahan, who flipped the puck past Schwab.

Legace and Schwab both made some huge saves in the final moments of the game to necessitate overtime. Legace especially was great, making an amazing stop on Mats Sundin all alone in front of the net with less than a minute remaining.

Unfortunately, Legace wasn’t so lucky against Sundin in the overtime. A two on one rush up the ice gave Sundin his opportunity. Steve Duchesne did manage to take away the option to pass the puck, but Sundin put the puck in high over Legace’s shoulder.

Shots on net were thirty-five to twenty-six in Detroit’s favor. The Red Wings’ next game will be the start of their final West Coast trip of the regular season- they will play Anaheim on Wednesday night, then Los Angeles on Thursday and San Jose on Saturday, before returning to the Joe.

Toronto’s win tonight clinched them a playoff spot. So far, Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto are all guaranteed to make the playoffs in the East, while Detroit has the only guaranteed spot in the West.

Rallying Late

After a slow start and difficulty with penalties, a late-game rally by the Red Wings brought them from behind to tie the Nashville Predators at 3 goals apiece.

The rematch against the Predators did not get off to as good a start as the Wings would have hoped. Just before the midway point in the first period, Detroit had to kill off a minute and sixteen seconds of a five-on-three Nashville power play resulting from overlapping penalties to Jiri Slegr and Kris Draper. The Predators were able to capitalize when Andy Delmore passed along the blue line to Kimmo Timonen, who one-timed a shot which deflected off the skate of Kirk Maltby and into the net past Dominik Hasek.

The Predators followed up their lead by clogging up the center ice area and keeping the Red Wings from setting up quality scoring plays in the Nashville zone. Many of the shots Detroit sent against goaltender Tomas Vokoun were blocked by Nashville players before they could even get to the net.

The Red Wings had a few power play chances of their own, including a high-sticking double minor to Steve Dubinsky early in the second period for clipping Brendan Shanahan on the nose. Even so, the Red Wings were unable to score, and then they ran into more penalty trouble.

This time, they had to kill off fifty-six seconds of Nashville’s five-on-three because of penalties to Tomas Holmstrom and Nick Lidstrom. The three men out aggressively harrassed the Nashville players and kept them from getting comfortable enough to set up a scoring play, until the first penalty had just expired. Just as Holmstrom was stepping out of the box to head up to the play, Timonen sent a blue line pass to Delmore, who one-timed a wrist shot past Hasek.

Detroit finally got a five-on-three power play of their own early in the third period, on calls to Legwand and Cale Hulse. Lidstrom passed the puck along the blue line to Brett Hull at the left point, and Hull sent off a one-timer which bounced off of Vokoun and into the net.

Unfortunately, the Predators used an unusual bounce to score once more and regain their two-goal lead. After a turnover at the blue line, Legwand fired a shot from close to the net. The puck bounced off of Scott Hartnell, then off of Mathieu Dandenault and over Hasek’s shoulder.

Finally, with less than four minutes to play, Kris Draper brought his team a goal and the momentum which went along with it. Draper deflected Steve Duchesne‘s point shot, but Vokoun was able to block. Draper tapped his own rebound into the net as he was falling to bring the Wings back within one, scoring a career-high fourteenth goal of the season.

Shanahan tied up the game a minute and a half later. Hull was unable to hit the original shot hard enough to get it into the net, but Shanahan grabbed the puck before Vokoun could cover it and stop the play. Just as on Draper’s goal, it took two tries to put the puck past Vokoun, and Shanahan made the successful shot while being knocked to the ice.

Pavel Datsyuk had a chance to put the game away before the end of regulation time, with Vokoun caught behind the net, but his shot rang off the goalpost and away from the crease. Neither team was able to score in the overtime period.

Shots on net were forty to twenty-four in Detroit’s favor. Their next game will be Saturday night against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Steve Yzerman plans to begin skating and accompany the team on next week’s West Coast trip, hopefully to return to the ice against one of the California teams”¦.. Dominik Hasek needs three more victories to tie Terry Sawchuk’s franchise record for the highest number of victories in one season”¦.. Scotty Bowman needs four more victories to tie Jack Adams‘ franchise record for number of wins as the Red Wings’ head coach”¦”¦ Tonight’s tie, with Philadelphia’s loss to Carolina, has won the Red Wings the President’s Trophy and guaranteed them home ice advantage for every round of the playoffs.

Wings at Home on the Road

The Detroit Red Wings downed the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday, lengthening their road winning-streak to a team record of eight games.

Detroit started the scoring early, with Tomas Holmstrom putting a rebound past St. Louis netminder Brent Johnson 6:24 into the first period.

Luc Robitaille put the Wings up by two when he pushed in a rebound just over seven minutes later.

“The goal was a result of a great play by Steve Duchesne,” Robitaille said. “I just kept pushing at the puck.”

St. Louis struck back late in the period. Scott Mellanby fired a shot off the post but the puck hit Detroit goaltender Dominik Hasek and bounced in.

The Blues tied the game early in the second period when Cory Stillman put a power play goal past Hasek.

Detroit regained the lead on a Sergei Fedorov power play goal just past the midway point in the game.

Robitaille scored his second late in the second period. Jason Williams fed Robitaille a perfect pass at the side of the net, and Robitaille redirected it past Johnson to put Detroit up by two.

Detroit fought off a tough St. Louis attack early in the third and held the lead. With Johnson pulled for the extra attacker late in the game, Pavel Datsyuk added an empty net goal to cap the Wings’ 5-2 win.

Several Red Wings are nearing career milestones… Brendan Shanahan is at career goal 499, Sergei Fedorov is at career assist 499, Chris Chelios is four assists away from 700 career, and Scotty Bowman needs only eight more victories to tie Jack Adams for most by a Red Wings coach.

Super Sergei!

The Red Wings and their power play are right back into the game after last night’s slightly embarrassing loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, taking a 3-2 victory over the Senators at the Corel Centre in Ottawa.

Scotty Bowman chose to start the game with the old Grind Line of Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, and Darren McCarty on the ice, and the Red Wings applied strong offensive pressure from the beginning of the game. Most of the first period was spent in the Senators’ zone. However, Ottawa played a strong defense in front of the net and kept many of the Red Wings’ shots from getting through to goaltender Jani Hurme.

Dominik Hasek showed off his new decorated helmet for the first time while making a few big saves to keep the game scoreless through one. Detroit ended the period on a good note when Ottawa’s Jody Hull took a hooking penalty with only ten seconds left.

Ottawa kept the Detroit power play from getting very organized for most of the minute and fifty seconds carried over into the second period, until Igor Larionov carried the puck into the zone and passed along the blue line to Chris Chelios at the right point. Chelios drew the Senators’ defensemen towards him, then quickly passed the puck up to Steve Duchesne at the left side. Duchesne’s quick wrist shot went past Hurme with only three seconds left on the power play.

The Senators came back before very long. Radek Bonk fished the puck out from a tangle of players along the right boards and sent a centering pass across for Marion Hossa, who flipped the puck into the net.

Ottawa was attempting to score once more, trying to bang the puck into the net, but Draper knocked it free to Sergei Fedorov, who took off down the ice alone. An Ottawa defenseman attempted to force Fedorov wide of the net, but Fedorov put a backhand shot past Hurme’s far side to score his 350th career goal.

Jody Hull took another penalty, this time for holding the stick, with five and a half minutes left in the period. The power play was unable to score, and just as Hull stepped back onto the ice, Daniel Alfreddson carried the puck towards Detroit’s end. Brett Hull was knocked down and out of the play, giving the Senators a three-on-one rush. Alfreddson’s shot from point-blank range went past Mathieu Dandenault and Dominik Hasek to tie the game.

Fedorov came to the rescue before the second period was over. Brendan Shanahan carried the puck into the zone on a three-on-two rush with Fedorov and Draper. He flew up the right wing side, just past the net, and angled a pass back to Fedorov who put the puck right through Hurme.

The Senators turned up the offense through the third period, trying to come back once more, but Detroit played a careful defense, and Hasek made all the saves that were required of him. Ottawa pulled their goaltender for the sixth skater with forty seconds left to play, but it was to no avail- Fedorov’s second goal stood up as the game winner.

Shots on net were twenty-six to twenty-two in the Red Wings’ favor. Half of the Red Wings’ shots came in the second period, and half of Ottawa’s came in the third. The Wings’ next game will be Monday night in Montreal.

Fedorov’s scoring appears to be good luck for the Wings: they have a record of 29-2-1 in games in which he has at least one point. Their overall record is 39-11-6-2, giving them a total of eighty-six points on the season.